What We Don’t See - Buildings that No Longer Exist (under construction)

This Page is Under Construction - Please Pardon Our Mess

Joel Lane owned around 6000 acres, some of which was used to run a active plantation between 1769 and 1795 (the exact acreage that was cultivated is not currently known). Between 30 and 35 men and women were enslaved on this plantation across this time period, and the main sustenance and cash crops being corn and apples. There were a variety of animals kept, including Sheep, Hogs, & Cattle.

On a plantation of this size, a number of outparcel buildings would have existed. As the plantation grounds no longer exist (as the land was divided up and, for the most part, sold after the death of Joel and Mary Lane in 1795) we have very little information about how many or where these buildings would have been. Scant little archeology has been done on this subject (and is for the most part impossible, as they are covered by modern Raleigh roads and buildings).

Both the 1795 Will and the 1798 Inventory give us some information about the holdings of the Lane Estate, and it is possible to infer through them a few of the outparcel buildings that likely would have existed.

Plus (click or tap to expand) + Animal Barns

The Lane Plantation did have a a population of Horses, Cattle, Sheep, and Hogs, which would likely have required one (or more) barns.

  • From the 1795 Inventory of the Estate of Joel Lane, Esq. Dec’d.: “.....6 head of horse, 13 cows & calves, 25 head of our Cattle, 35 head of Sheep, 50 head of hoggs on the Plantation…..”
  • Joel Lane’s Will as entered in the Wake County Court records on February 7, 1798: “.....Bequeath to my son John Lane his heirs…...all my Stock of Cattle and Hoggs….”
  • A barn or outbuilding certainly would have been needed to hold the animal-related equipment, including (all from the 1798 Inventory: “....1 pr sheep shaves…. 3 churns, 12 butter potts,.... 3 ladies saddles, 2 mens saddles….. 4 pr harnesses, 11 sleys….1 yoke of oxen & cart, 1 old riding chair & harness….. 2 brushes…1 pr. Shears and shovel….1 pr saddle baggs….1 pr Horse [phlems]....[and] 4 old bridles…”
  • There were also 6 beehives on the grounds, as indicated by the 1795 Inventory. These were likely spread around the various orchards (quite possibly the Apples) to help pollination, rather than kept in one location. The Lane’s also owned “one honey jarr (sic)”.

Plus (click or tap to expand) + Smithy

According to the 1798 Inventory, the Estate owned: “....1 pr. Bellows, 1 anvill, 1 vice, 2 small hammers, 1 [ ] iron, 2 pr. Smiths tongs, 2 grind stones…[and] 1 pr. Spoon molds…”

All of this black smithing equipment implies the existence of some form of Smithy, as the intense heat and sparks from forging would have been dangerous to keep close to other structures.

Plus (click or tap to expand) + Spinning & Weaving Building

The 1798 Inventory also notes the existence of “....1 loom and warping bars…4 cotton wheels, [and] 6 linen wheels…”.

This implies there was a notable amount of home spinning and weaving being done on the plantation. The House being built in 1769, and Raleigh not being established and built until c.1792, means that for the most part all clothing worn by the Lane family and the people enslaved here would have been made on-site as there was no nearby town to buy from.

These would have likely been in a separate building from the Kitchen or a Smithy, as the fire risk would have been high.

Plus (click or tap to expand) + Miscellaneous Storage

Things like wood for the many fireplaces would have need a storage place. The Lane house has 4 fireplaces, at least 1 kitchen fireplace, and likely had a number of outside fire pits that saw various use.

The 1798 Inventory lists “1 old hand saw, [and] 1 whip saw”, which likely stayed in either a smithy or an animal barn.

The Lanes also owned a number of trunks, chairs, tables, and bed hides (essentially fillable mattresses) that may have been stored away at times depending upon the number of people staying in the house.

Plus (click or tap to expand) + Privy

There would have been at least one outhouse, called a ‘privy’ in the 18th century, on the property.

They are typically a short distance from the main house. These small wooden structures contain a bench with a hole cut in the plank on which to sit, which empties over a hole dug into the ground.

Toilet paper as we know it today did not exist during the 18th century. People used all manner of things to wipe with, including plant leaves (lamb’s ear was particularly popular due to its softness) and corn husks.

Privies also served as unofficial trash dumps for residences. Unfixable items - things like broken porcelain or broken wig rollers - often ended up at the bottom of a privy. A privy can hold a huge wealth of archaeological information about the daily lives of nearby inhabitants.

Privies were not permanent buildings, as they would eventually fill up and have to be moved to another nearby location.


NationalGeographic.com. “What a Toilet Seat Shows About Life During the American Revolution”. Accessed February 24, 2022. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/america-revolution-independence-philadelphia-colony-archaeology-garbage-history

Plus (click or tap to expand) + Tannery

The Lane plantation may or may not have had a tannery on the grounds, as the Inventory lists “...a parcel of leather the quantity not known it being in Tan…”.

Whether or not this ‘leather in the tan’ was on-site or sent off to a larger tannery unfortunately isn’t known at this time.